Spelling and Grammar

Onsite vs On-Site: Should You Use a Hyphen?

Here’s a question for the ages. Should onsite be hyphenated?

This article explores whether the correct spelling in the English language is onsite or on-site.

Many people believe that onsite should be spelled with a hyphen (on-site), while others use onsite without the hyphen.

Let’s start with a little background information before we address which version is correct.

What Does Onsite Mean?

Let’s define what the word onsite means.

Onsite is an adjective used to describe a service provided at a particular location. Frequently the service is located at (or near) a client’s location. An onsite service means all of the facilities and equipment required to deliver that service are situated locally.

A couple of examples might be useful.

Example #1: Onsite Child Care

If you work for a progressive company that supports family values, they may provide amenities like onsite child care.

Onsite child care is super convenient! If you’re a parent with small children, you simply drop the kids off at a daycare center located in the building where you work then head up to your office.

Onsite Child Care
Onsite Child Care

Example #2: Onsite Training

My company offers onsite Microsoft Excel training in Toronto and Ottawa. I’ve used the word onsite for years – to describe how the training is delivered.

With onsite training, I travel to my clients’ offices, and provide the training in person. Many clients prefer this format because of the high level of engagement and interaction with participants.

Onsite Training
Onsite Training

Is Onsite Hyphenated?

Let’s answer the main question posed in this article. Which is the correct spelling… onsite or on-site? Is onsite hyphenated?

We’ll start by checking with a few prominent online dictionaries.

Merriam Webster says on-site should be hyphenated. The Cambridge dictionary includes onsite (without the hyphen) and on-site (hyphenated), while the American Heritage dictionary only lists onsite (no hyphen).

So… which word is correct?

Woman reading a dictionary

The English language is funny.

Merriam Webster says to use the hyphen, the Cambridge dictionary indicates that the hyphen is optional, and the entry in American Heritage dictionary says to omit the hyphen!

This lack of consensus in online dictionaries tells me that whether you use a hyphen or not comes down to personal preference.

Onsite or On-Site: Both Words Are Correct!

You can use onsite or on-site. Both words appear in the dictionary. Both versions of the word are correct – but you should pick one and use that word consistently.

It wasn’t that long ago that bumblebee and ice cream were hyphenated. Now, the words bumble-bee and ice-cream look a little strange.

In closing, I would suggest that if you have an issue omitting the hyphen from onsite, maybe you should stop being such a crybaby (formerly cry-baby)!

By Michael Belfry

Working as a full-time training consultant, Michael provides Microsoft Office courses to government and private sector clients across Canada.